Can We Talk?

You may remember trailblazing comedian, Joan Rivers, weaving this phrase throughout her comedy routine.  Turns out, many of my colleagues and coaching clients are finding these words to be transformative as they seek to improve their work relationships, especially in this age of digital media and virtual office set–ups.

Countless times, I am struck by the power of personal dialogue. In this hyper-connected, digital age where text is king and time is in short supply, returning to the simplest form of communication – TALKING – can often yield the most benefit.  And while most people think email/text saves time, talking it out often saves time in the long run!

Think about a time when you may have misunderstood someone’s message via email or text.   According to research conducted by UCLA psychology professor emeritus Albert Mehrabian, 7 percent of a message was derived from the words, while 38 percent from the intonation, and 55 percent from the facial expression or body language.    Simply put, most communication is not dependent on WHAT is said, but HOW it is said. 

Oftentimes, the written message we receive may be clouded by what is going on with us at that moment.  Are you rushed, trying to get something done?  Did you just have a difficult discussion with a colleague?   The lens through which we look at an email or text can be dramatically influenced by what is going with us in the moment.

A recent famous example of where dialogue appeared to help a fraught relationship, was during the first face-to-face meeting between President Obama and President-Elect Trump, two days after this past election day.  After years of mean-spirited attacks waged through the media and Twitter, I was struck by the civility and optimism that was apparent when both men actually met in person and started having a conversation.  This led to a months-long period of dialogue between both men and their teams that resulted in a peaceful, civil transition of power between two bitter adversaries.  While it is no secret that this relationship has collapsed since the Inauguration, who knows how actual conversation would impact the civility and tone moving forward!  However, that analysis is outside the scope of this article! 

Next time you receive a text or email that is not clear or rubs you the wrong way, consider picking up the phone (or, if possible, meet face-to-face) to discuss the issue.  Look to start the dialogue with the intent of gaining greater depth and understanding.   Conversely, if there is a complex or sensitive issue that could easily be misconstrued via text/email, ask the person, “Can we talk?”   The grief and time you will save will be a start to ensuring greater clarity, understanding, and enhanced relationships.

And that’s no joke! 

Why Coaching?

You may have heard of a friend or work colleague talking about or receiving coaching.  Perhaps you have thought about reaching out to a coach but wonder, “What exactly IS coaching and how could it help me?”  

Simply put, coaching is working in partnership with a trusted, qualified professional to help realize a desired change you want to make and/or a goal you want to reach in your work or personal life.  

The process typically starts by the coach and client initially meeting to discuss the goals for coaching.  Before this initial meeting, the coach may forward a series of questions for the client to consider to organize their thoughts and provide background for the coach.  

As I will explain in a future blog post, I believe this initial meeting is the most important.  Clear goal setting sets the stage for a successful outcome; the clearer and more focused the goal(s) for coaching, the more successful the coaching will be for the client. 

Examples of potential reasons for hiring a professional coach might include:

  • Uncertainty about career performance or advance opportunities in current organization
  • Personnel issues with management and/or colleagues
  • Mid-life career assessment
  • Stress management
  • Work-Life Imbalance
  • Career Transition
  • Learning to better navigate an organizational culture

After the initial goal setting meeting, the coaching begins.  Typically, coach and client meet more frequently in the beginning to utilize the momentum of discovery to develop options to test outside the coaching sessions.  These initial meetings might occur every 1-2 weeks, on average.  As the coaching progresses, the frequency might stretch to every 4-6 weeks to allow the participant time to determine what is working and what needs they have to tweak the options they are developing.  

On average, coaching assignments last approximately 6 months, although I have seen coaching assignments as brief as 3 months and as long as 1 year or more.  It ultimately is up to the client and what they feel they need to realize the change they want to make.

Successful coaching is a true partnership, with the coach and client working together to realize the change they are seeking.  The questions I ask are designed to help clients consider their current situation, what they want to change, and what options they have for realizing that change.  The great news is that everyone has the answers inside of them, but sometimes they need a trusted coach to help discover what the answers are that are right for them. 

Coaching is a powerful tool that can truly change people’s lives.  There are so many exciting topics to consider in the world of coaching, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and hearing yours in the weeks and months ahead.

Until then, remember the power truly lies in you.

Peace,
Melanie

I'm Crazy Busy

How many times have you heard this answer in response to “How are you?”  How many times have you uttered these words yourself in response to the same question?  

For some people, the answer “crazy busy” may indicate a life filled with positive activities that are meaningful and important to them and their values.  These people are “in the zone,” focused on a prioritized set of activities that might take up many hours of their day but leave them feeling energized and fulfilled.

For far too many others, “crazy busy” is a cry for help, indicating a life overtaken by an endless stream of commitments, responsibilities, and even chaos that leaves them feeling overwhelmed and depleted of energy. At the end of the day, they are often exhausted and stressed about how they will ever get through their endless “To Do” list.  

When coaching clients complaining about their “crazy busy” lives, many times it is not about too much to do; rather, it’s about not doing what is most important to their core values.  Coaching clients to become aware of what is most important to them based on their individual essence helps focus them on WHAT is important and WHY it is important.  From there, the WHERE, WHEN, and HOW often fall naturally (and quickly!) into place.  

I often like to start clients in this scenario with the well-known WHEEL OF LIFE exercise (also known as the BALANCE WHEEL or FULFILLMENT WHEEL).  By assessing their satisfaction among the key facets of their life, clients have a powerful visual for determining where their satisfaction, and time, is out of balance.  Seeing their life as it is today helps clarify the goals for coaching, and the resulting changes they are seeking to make.    

With effective coaching, we can partner with clients to be ‘crazy busy’ doing what they want to do, rather going crazy being busy doing things that are not life enhancing.  

Coaching Tip:

When life is “crazy busy,” reflect on how fulfilled you are with how you spend your time.    Start by reflecting on your general satisfaction with the important areas of your life (e.g. relationships, family, self, spiritual, physical, work, etc.)  In those areas where there is low satisfaction, assess how your time is currently spent and where you would like it to be spent to feel in balance.  This can start the process of re-aligning your time to better reflect what brings you satisfaction and fulfillment.